Every city on the tourist beat has a mahal (Indian Palace), Fort or Temple that makes you say it is the most majestic, beautiful or magnificent thing you’ll see in India. It was encouraging to see Mohguls and Rajput rulers over the last five hundred years sponsoring so much art and creation as well as their military might. We spent 15 days in the Indian province of Rajasthan in the blink of an eye and visited only the main attractions. Missing the smaller towns, outdoor experiences like trekking and places like the “rat temple”. Given the richness of the area I hope to at least express the differences and highlights of each city. It’s hard to describe these places so I’ll try to do my best with photos.
Agra (not technically Rajasthan) has the masterpiece of elegant human craftsmanship in the Taj Mahal. Despite the cliche it was awe striking in person.
Jaipur is the capital and “gateway to Rajasthan”. A short drive from the old city reveals long walls prowling up and down ridgelines of an inset Amber Fort, the largest in Rajasthan, under the nose of a rougher military outpost referred to as the Tiger Fort.
The Amber Fort hosts one of the most fantastic buildings of Rajasthan, the Sheesh Mahal, which showcases the unique regional architecture techniques utilizing mirrors for its walls.
Udaipur is an oddball in the desert Provence of Rajasthan with green jungle and two large lakes of water protecting an island palace turned hotel.
The City Palace exhausted my eyes after over three hours in countless rooms and galleries of the best preserved artifacts of from the region.
Nearby sits one of the largest Jain temples in Ranakpur. Jain architecture showcases intricate architecture composes from layers of figures counted in the thousands in a organic three dimensional outer wall. (Following are pictures of a Jain temple but not Ranakpur)
Jodhpur proved to be the most beautiful city in Rajasthan the blue Brahmin painted city oozing outward from the high central fort whose tall walls stand only tens of feet from most hotels.
The fort itself was shorter to tour but displayed captivating Mewar paintings with such variety of vibrant colors unheard of prior to modern printing.
This may have inspired the most beautiful single room of Rajasthan in the interior palace through a combination of stained glass, delicate gold lattices, colorfully detailed paintings, precise architecture, organic wood shutters and red royal rugs.
Finally in Jaisalmer, 100 km from Pakistan, the small city lives both in and around a golden desert fort free to self explore without cost or direction. It probably has has as many businessmen selling camel rides as there are buildings inside those fort walls.
As always though it can be the human experiences that really make the trip memorable like the bustle and energy of the all you can eat thali by the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur. The chai I shared with Deepack’s grandmother in their childhood home after a street motorcycle ride. Our host giving us a roti to feed a cow.
Discussions of the interconnection of life in India with guest house hosts. Learning to cook several Indian dishes in the home of a prior national swim champion.
Laughs over dinner with Doni while learning about his visits to Iran and Mecca. Sharing a night in the desert with Bart a newly practicing yogi after living seven months in an ashram and 14 in India.
Oh and that Makhaniya Lassi.
Listening to people to planned on three months and stayed a year, I feel it too. The country is so rich in culture, belief, life, color, energy, spice, diversity and beauty. I consider extending my 6 weeks to 12, only reigned in by prior commitments and the climbing seasons of mountains elsewhere. I love India and it frustrates me at the same time. Each province like its own country I am excited to see what Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir will share.